Last week, readers of Musket Fire voted on the position the Patriots should focus on most once free agency begins. The outside linebacker position won with 45% of the vote. Therefore, over the next five days, I’ll look at the top five outside linebacker prospects the Patriots could target. Today’s spotlight is on former Tennessee Titan Jason Babin.
Last season, the Patriots had the worst third-down defense in the NFL, and that was largely due to the lack of a pass rush.What better solution to that problem than to go after the free agent with the most sacks last season? Babin, while playing defensive end in the Titans’ 4-3, sacked the QB 12.5 times, earning him his first Pro Bowl. Babin also landed at #85 on the NFL Network’s “Top 100 Players” series, in Group E of Pat Kirwan’s top pass rushers, and is CBS Sports Pete Prisco’s 21st-best free agent available.
Of course, all of Babin’s production has come at DE in a 4-3. The Patriots would be projecting that Babin could make the transition to OLB in their 3-4 if they were to pursue him. He does have the size at 6-3, 260 to play OLB. However, the Pats do run a lot of sub packages on defense, and could play him at DE on a four-man line on passing downs to better utilize Babin’s pass rushing talents until he’s more comfortable at OLB.
Another possible problem with Babin, aside from the position transition, is that he has only put together one double-digit sack season, and is 31 years old. Babin has played for five different teams since he was drafted in the first round by the Houston Texans. The most sacks he had prior to 2010 was five in 2006, so the Pats (or any team for that matter) would also be taking the risk that he could post big numbers two years in a row. Regardless, it’s clear that Babin has the ability to post big numbers, and the Patriots have the depth luxury to take a flyer on a guy who could potentially be their big pass rusher.
Jason Babin by the numbers:
- 2010 stats: 58 total tackles, 12.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
- Career numbers: 230 total tackles, 30 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 7 passes defensed
- Seasons with 16 starts: 2 (2004 and 2010)